St. Thomas Rich Counts DCYR Feature by THE HILL

50 Most Beautiful People for 2011
By The Hill Staff – 07/27/11 12:00 AM ET

Age:  26

Hometown: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

He may have figured out the Washington political scene, but deep down, Rich Counts was a video game master first.

“I love playing with friends and trash-talking back and forth,” says the EOP Group lobbyist, who still competes against his old college buddies. He prefers “sports games, Madden Football or college hoops games.”

Growing up in St. Thomas — and spending summers in Michigan — the former D.C. Young Republicans chairman says his childhood was filled with basketball, soccer and a circle of friends that “was like a fraternity.”

It was not until Counts moved to New Orleans to study political economy at Tulane University that his love of public affairs first blossomed.

“When I got to D.C., [my interest in politics] just steamrolled slowly. … Suddenly, I was the [DCYR] chairman, and I was like, ‘How did this happen?’” Counts laughs, exuding youthful energy despite his sober suit and gravelly voice.

Politics took him far away from home, but the move to Washington was not a tough adjustment for the gregarious Counts.

“I’ve been a lot of places and around a lot of people,” he says. “That’s why I love D.C. — it’s such an international and national city.”

To meet as many people as possible, Counts frequents local happy hours, especially “First Fridays,” a monthly networking event for young Republicans that he leads.

The former high school athlete loves to stay active by playing basketball with his friends, hitting local courts as often as he can.

Yet Counts’s secret to keeping fit is far less physical. “Enjoy life,” he says, “How you feel about yourself and your life is projected in your physical appearance.”

Plus, when it comes to looking good, Counts says it never hurts to have some help.

“Consult with your girlfriends. My best looks come from what girls tell me.”

–Becki Steinberg

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